A Kids’ Guide to America’s Bill of Rights: Curfews, Censorship, and the 100-Pound Giant. Written by Kathleen Krull. Illustrated by Anna Divito. HarperCollins, 1999. 240 pages. Publisher recommends for ages 8-12. ISBN: 9780380974979.
A Kids’ Guide to America’s Bill of Rights begins with an overview of the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The overview is followed by three chapters about the First Amendment and then includes one chapter about each subsequent Amendment. Each chapter contains the wording of the Amendment, examples to clarify the Amendment, an idea of which rights the authors of the Bill of Rights intended to protect, and a discussion of Supreme Court cases involving the Amendment. Where it is appropriate, Krull compares rights in other countries to the rights guaranteed by the particular Amendment she is discussing. Also where appropriate, Krull discusses the impact of the particular Amendment on kids.
Some of the Amendments, for instance the Eighth Amendment which protects against cruel and unusual punishment, bring up difficult subjects such as capital punishment. Krull deals with these subjects in a very straightforward way, neither shirking from them nor overdramatizing them.
Krull’s political leanings are clear. When discussing the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right to bear arms, Krull lists multiple organizations that support gun control. She also lists the National Rifle Association, which opposes gun control, but she does not list any other organizations that oppose gun control. Some bias is also clear in her text. I did not feel her bias compromised her clarity in discussing each Amendment. However, kids from liberal families might be more comfortable with this book than kids from conservative families.
The illustrations add humor and echo points raised by the text.
The book was published in 1999. I’d love to see a post 9/11 version of the book.
This book is written with a great deal of reverence for the Bill of Rights. As Krull says in the last sentence of the book “But most people, especially newly arrived immigrants from other countries, will agree: Through the freedom it protects, the Bill of Rights has contributed towards making the United States unlike any other nation on earth.”